Entering his final NJSIAA State Wrestling Tournament as a member of the Eastern Vikings, senior Jared Brunner is focused on the pursuit of constantly improving his game match after match.
After an eighth-place finish during his first states appearance during his sophomore year while wrestling at 106 pounds before finishing in sixth last year after having moved up a weight class, Brunner is prepared to give it all one final time while donning an Eastern singlet.
While a state title is, naturally, the ultimate prize, he’s comfortable knowing that as long as he displays the same amount of work in the state tournament as he has over the course of the past three years, he’ll continue to show improvements in his craft and be proud of what he’s able to accomplish.
“For the past two years now, my main goal has really been a state title,” Brunner said. “But when I go out there if I just wrestle my best possible match and put out my best effort, having trained with the best partners and coaches possible, I believe I’ll be able to reach that state title.”
Entering the state tournament, Brunner is 25-2 thus far this season. Following the conclusion of the regular season for teams, Brunner went on to win his second career District 30 title, earning the District Outstanding Wrestler Award for his efforts before winning his first career Region 8 title the following weekend to qualify for the state meet in the 113 pound division as the No. 4 seed.
Having watched Brunner continue to develop over the past four years, Eastern head coach Brian Boland said the senior’s growth has been one of someone who’s always learning on the mat.
“I had somewhat high expectations for him coming in, but you never know how some guys are going to make that jump from middle school to high school,” Boland said. “It was a continuous learning process for him, he was a kid that made sure to never make the same mistake twice.”
The aforementioned awards from this year’s District 30 and Region 8 tournaments speak volumes about the continued growth Brunner has made year after year, according to his coach.
“The Outstanding Wrestler Award was absolutely fitting; it’s supposed to go to the most dominant wrestler in the tournament that day and that’s who Jared was that day,” Boland said. “And that kind of speaks to how we’ve approached his senior year. He’s constantly striving to get better and not settling for just a win … he’s constantly trying to work harder and be more dominant than he was the last time he stepped on the mat.”
Both the coach and senior wrestler agree that that mindset switch, from winning to wrestling his best match possible every time he’s on the mat, was made sometime during his sophomore year, which helped instill a stronger desire to work harder than was already there.
In doing so, Brunner said it’s been a rewarding journey, ultimately leading to the success he’s enjoyed thus far as he enters the final weekend of his wrestling career with Eastern. Looking back, the Brown University commit said he’s thankful for what he’s been able to accomplish during his time with the Vikings.
“It’s been pretty cool overall to have done everything I’ve accomplished [during my senior year], I’m extremely grateful it’s turned out exactly how I would’ve wanted it to up to this point,” Brunner said. “But with states still coming up, there’s not really time to reflect, I just need to stay hungry for what’s ahead of me.”